CONCORD, N.C. — Alex Bowman claimed his first NASCAR national series victory Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the rain-delayed XFINITY Series race.
In his first XFINITY start this season, he led 32 laps in the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Chevrolet, capturing the Drive for The Cure 300 checkered flag on his way to Victory Lane. Next year, Bowman will take over the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series after Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Bowman, who admitted to being slightly rusty in his return to competition. “I’ve got to thank Mr. Hendrick and Chip and everybody that made this possible. It’s been a long time since I’ve raced, so to come here and be as competitive as we were all night, even until that last restart, I was really pleased with how competitive we were.”
Sam Hornish Jr. finished second for Team Penske in his fifth XFINITY start this season while Ryan Blaney, Austin Dillon and Brennan Poole rounded out the top five finishers. The race was also the final event in the Playoff’s Round of 12, eliminating four drivers from the post-season championship Playoffs.
William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Elliott Sadler, Daniel Hemric and Cole Custer secured their spots in the Round of 8 when points were awarded after the first two stages of the XFINITY race. They were joined by Poole, Matt Tifft and Ryan Reed, who earned one point more than Brendan Gaughan, at the completion of the Drive for The Cure 300.
Reed spoke about going “all-in” during the Playoffs to gain that extra point by going three-wide with Gaughan and Byron at a critical point of the race.
“I ran a pretty conservative race,” he said, “tried not to make too many radical moves and then there at the end I think in these Playoff races you have one or two moments where you have to lay it all out on the line and you have to go all-in so to speak. That was my moment to go all-in and it worked out. I’m glad.”
Gaughan was eliminated as a championship contender along with Michael Annett, Blake Koch and Jeremy Clements.
The next XFINITY Series race will be held at Kansas Speedway on Oct. 21.
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